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It’s been a while since Anna Schwartz finished school, but she still felt strongly about her longtime dream of becoming a doctor.

Now, with six children (ages 14,13,11,10, 6, and 5) and having successfully overcoming stuttering, Schwartz is on her way to becoming an MD.
In the middle of August, Schwartz received her ceremonial white coat and officially began her four years of study to become a doctor.
The last time Schwartz was in school was in 2007, when she graduated with a Masters in Occupational Therapy.
“I worked, since then, as an occupational therapist, but I stopped working at the end of June this year, so I could start medical school in August,” said Schwartz.
To her happy surprise, Schwartz found there to be many fellow med school students who already had one or more Masters degrees. “We actually have a more interesting class, where people have come from other careers, have families, and other degrees,” said Schwartz.
Balancing act
With a very supportive husband, Schwartz feels grateful to be free to go to school and spend time with their kids as much as she can, including help them with their activities and homework.
Thrilled to be back at school, Schwartz could not be happier, yet she is still trying to narrow down what she wants to do once she has her medical degree. “As we go through training, we will get experience in different areas so we can make a better decision,” said Schwartz.
“I’m actually really interested in neurology or something with neurosciences or endocrinology. Since I decided I wanted to go to medical school, I’ve thought about neurology – that’s what interested me from the beginning.”
Personal motivation
“I’ve done some research into neurological stuttering, the brain science behind speech conditions, and I’ve always been interested in that for personal reasons – because I stutter,” said Schwartz. “I thought I might be able to make a meaningful contribution to the field.
“It’s very complex disorder. I’m interested in, not just stuttering, but in different neurological conditions. I think it would be a very neat area to go into.”
Blending clinical work with research and teaching
Ideally, Schwartz would love to combine research and teaching with seeing patients.
“Pretty much all the doctors who teach at the medical school are active clinicians, actively seeing patients in addition to teaching part-time,” said Schwartz. “That seems to be the pattern for those interested in teaching.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching. I’ve always thought it was a good way to contribute, by teaching the next generation of students and clinicians, because the knowledge you acquire isn’t just for yourself – it can be useful in teaching others.”
Over the years, Schwartz has taught some classes at Herzlia – Adas Yeshurun Congregation’s former school, Torah Academy, as a way of giving back to the community that had given her so much.
When Schwartz with her family moved to Canada, when she was a teen, from Russia, her speech impediment was at its most challenging point. It was the then-Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS) executive director, Emily Shane, who played a pivotal role. Schwartz fondly recalled how Shane had arraigned speech therapy training for her.
“Emily [Shane] was able to arrange for me to go to a place in Edmonton (the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research/ISTAR) that’s world renowned for their stuttering treatment, where I spent a month in intensive speech therapy,” said Schwartz. “That really made the single biggest difference in my life.”
Summoning courage
It took Schwartz a long time to gather up the courage to go to medical school interviews. “I didn’t think my speech would stand up to the challenge,” said Schwartz. “Going through occupational therapy training and working has helped.
“Joining Toastmasters has helped a great deal too, especially this past year. I was in three different clubs in preparation for my interviews. Will it (stuttering) affect my interaction with patients? It has to, to a degree. In my occupational work, I’ve learned over time to be as open about it as I can, and that really takes the pressure off me and the interaction.”

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